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Yankees 5, Rays 3: Oh, hey, Gary Sanchez hit a home run

The Yankees were able to successfully bounceback after a brutal four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox, thanks in part to a solid start by Michael Pineda and a dinger from The Kraken

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

After a likely season-crushing eight game period in which the Yankees lost seven games (including five defeats in a row to cap off the weekend), New York needed, more than anything, a win and a fresh start. Luckily for the Bronx Bombers, they got exactly that. There’s not many better ways to wash away a week of devastating losses than yet another Gary Sanchez home run and a smooth victory; the latter they so dearly needed after blowing the lead on a regular basis in the past seven losses.

That’s not to say the whole game was sunshine and rainbows, though. Michael Pineda allowed two runs in the third inning in classic Yankees fashion—a combination of poor defense and pitching with two outs in the frame. A pair of singles (one of the infield variety) and a bases clearing triple by Brad Miller put Tampa Bay up 2-0, and it began to have the look of yet another Yankees loss.

This deficit only looked uglier when considering an opprtunity presented to the Yankees in the first inning, when Aaron Hicks was conservatively held at third base on a Billy Butler double. Even if holding Hicks wasn’t the right call, the next batter, Mark Teixeira, had the opportunity to bring home a pair. Naturally, he popped out to third base.

Teixeira would redeem himself later in the game, though, when he obliterated a high-and-inside fastball from Drew Smyly into the left field seats for a solo home run, his thirteenth of the year. Still, the Yankees were down 2-1.

In the sixth inning, the Yankees were presented with a similar situation to the first frame. Gary Sanchez walked and Butler hit yet another double, though Sanchez was held at third base. Up next was Teixeira, who was intentionally walked, and with the bases loaded, Didi Gregorius flew out to end the inning.

Michael Pineda exited with an out in the bottom of the sixth, two runs to his name. It was a very good start for the right-hander, who struck out eleven with just five hits and a walk allowed. Tommy Layne came in to retire a batter, before being pulled for relief ace Luis Severino. Severino did what we’re used to seeing from him: 1.1 perfect innings, including a strikeout.

The following half inning, Brett Gardner tied the game up with a single to score Ronald Torreyes (who reached on a single). After an Aaron Hicks strikeout and a mound visit, Gary Sanchez strolled to the plate with men on second and third and two outs. You probably can guess what happened next, but enjoy the video of The Kraken’s 17th home run anyway:

Before continuing, I’d like to mention that no player has more home runs than Gary Sanchez through his first 44 games, and that there is a chance Sanchez isn’t human. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

The three-run home run put the Yankees up 5-2, and while Tyler Clippard would allow a run on a triple and wild pitch in the following half inning, the Yankees did not give up their lead like they had so many times last week. Clippard finished out the eighth inning, and Dellin Betances, somehow, sealed the win with a perfect ninth inning, complete with a strikeout.

Although it remains to be seen at the time of this recap whether the Yankees will move up a spot in the Wild Card (they’re currently three spots back), this win was a big one. There’s a very good chance it won’t matter in the grand scheme of things, as a postseason berth is highly unlikely now, but the team managed to snap out of a very rough stretch, instead of continuing to spiral down into a disastrous ending to the season.